WASHINGTON: The US military today said it was "reasonably certain" that ISIS militant 'Jihadi John' was killed in its air strike in Syria, describing his death as a "significant" blow to the the Islamic State terror group.
"We are reasonably certain that we killed the target that we intended to kill, which is 'Jihadi John,'" Colonel Steven Warren, spokesman for the US military operation against ISIS, told Pentagon reporters in a briefing that was webcast live.
However, it will take some time before it is confirmed that Jihadi John has been killed, he said. "It was a drone strike," he said. "The weapon system hit the intended target."
Describing this as a routine strike, Warren said since March, the US-led international collation has killed on an average one ISIL leader every two day.
At the same time, he described this as a significant blow to the ISIS also known as ISIL.
"Jihadi John was an ISIL celebrity. He was a recruiting toll for ISIL. So it’s a significant blow to the prestige of ISIL. But Jihadi John was not a tactical figure in ISIL," he said.
Mohamed Emwazi known as Jihadi John was British citizen.
He participated in the videos showing the murders of US journalists Steven Sotloff and James Foley, aid worker Abdul- Rahman Kassig, British aid workers David Haines and Alan Henning, Japanese journalist Kenji Goto, and a number of other hostages.
In mid 20s, Emwazi, was identified as the mysterious knife-wielding man in the gruesome ISIL execution videos in February. He was dubbed Jihadi John by the British press because he was one of four British terrorists whom their prisoners named "the Beatles."
Said to be a computer science graduate who lived in west London before he left for Syria in 2013, Emwazi had been known to security services and was detained several times as long ago as 2009.
Though interrogated several times, he was never arrested or charged.
Warren said the US has been tracking Jihadi John for quite some time. It was based in multiple intelligence capabilities.
After the strike, the US is depending on same intelligence capabilities to confirm the death of Jihadi John.
The White House also did not conform the death of Jihadi John.
"Emwazi was a British citizen who is best known in this country for his participation in the death of some Western hostages, including some American citizens," White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters.
"Emwazi was an ISIL leader. He was a strategist for that organization, and he was intimately involved in the effort by ISIL to recruit individuals to their cause. And so, his ability to use social media to inspire and radicalized people around the globe meant that he was making a valuable contribution to ISIL," he said.
"At this point, I am not in a position to confirm the results of that operation; confirmation of the results of that operation will be shared with all of you by the Department of
Defense once they have had an opportunity to take a close look at what exactly occurred," he said.
"And there is a very rigorous process for assessing these outcomes. And so, any final determination about this will be issued by the Department of Defense. But the fact is, a final determination has not been made at this point," Earnest said.